Measuring Blood Lactate Concentrations Following Capture by a Canine Search Team in Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2019
Katy Klein, BS; Laura Adamovicz, DVM, PhD; Matthew C. Allender, DVM, MS, PhD, DACZM
Wildlife Epidemiology Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA


Studies to assess wildlife health commonly evaluate clinical pathology changes, immune responses, pathogen presence, and contaminant exposure; but novel modalities are needed to characterize the unique physiologic responses of reptiles.1-3,5,10,11 Lactate is an indicator of hypoperfusion and/or anaerobic respiration and can be quickly measured using a point-of-care analyzer.4,6-9 This study evaluated baseline blood lactate concentrations in free-living eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina, n=105) using a point-of-care analyzer (Lactate Plus Meter, Nova Biomedical Corporation, Waltham, MA, USA), then determined the effect of handling time, physical examination (PE) abnormalities, and qPCR pathogen detection (Terrapene herpesvirus 1, Mycoplasma sp., Terrapene adenovirus) on lactate levels. Baseline blood lactate concentrations were higher in the spring than summer, in turtles with Terrapene herpesvirus 1 (n=11), and in turtles with aural abscesses (n=7) (p<0.05). Lactate concentrations increased between initial capture and PE, with peak values reached 129 minutes following capture. Lactate at PE was positively associated with baseline lactate levels and packed cell volume and was higher in turtles that remained in their shells (p<0.05). Turtles with pathogens or PE abnormalities may have alterations in blood flow, oxygen delivery, or activity levels, driving increases in baseline lactate.4,6 Increased handling time likely leads to more escape behaviors and/or breath-holding, causing turtles to undergo anaerobic metabolism and raising lactate concentrations.4,8,9 Overall, lactate measured by a point-of-care analyzer shows variability due to capture and health factors in eastern box turtles and may be a useful adjunctive diagnostic test in this species.


The authors thank John Rucker, his dogs, and the students of the turtle team at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine for being a huge help in data collection and in searching of the turtles.

Literature Cited

1.  Adamovicz L, Leister K, Byrd J, Phillips CA, Allender MC. Venous blood gas in free-living eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) and effects of physiologic, demographic and environmental factors. Conserv Physiol. [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2018 Jul 25];6(1):coy041. Available from: (VIN editor: Original link was modified as of 11-9-20.)

2.  Allender MC, Dreslik MJ, Patel B, Luber EL, Byrd J, Phillips CA, Scott JW. Select metal and metalloid surveillance of free-ranging eastern box turtles from Illinois and Tennessee (Terrapene carolina carolina). Ecotoxicology. 2015;24(6):1269–1278.

3.  Archer G, Phillips CA, Adamovicz L, Band M, Allender MC. Detection of co-pathogens in free-ranging eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) in Illinois and Tennessee. J Zoo Wildl Med. 2017;48(4):1127–1134.

4.  Bagatto B, Henry RP. Exercise and forced submergence in the pond slider (Trachemys scripta) and softshell turtle (Apalone ferox): influence on bimodal gas exchange, diving behaviour and blood acid-base status. J Exp Biol. 1999;202(3):267–278.

5.  Flower JE, Byrd J, Cray C, Allender MC. Plasma electrophoretic profiles and hemoglobin binding protein reference intervals in the eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) and the influences of age, sex, season, and location. J Zoo Wildl Med. 2014;45(4):836–842.

6.  Gatten RE, Jr. Effects of temperatures and activity on aerobic and anaerobic metabolism and heart rate in the turtles Pseudemys scripta and Terrapene ornata. Comp Biochem Physiol A Comp Physiol. 1974;48(4):619–648.

7.  Gatten R. The uses of anaerobiosis by amphibians and reptiles. Am Zool. 1985;25:945–954.

8.  Harms C, Mallo K, Ross P, Segars A. Venous blood gases and lactates of wild loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) following two capture techniques. J Wildl Dis. 2003;39(2):366–374.

9.  Jackson DC. Living without oxygen: lessons from the freshwater turtle. Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2000;125(3):299–315.

10.  Kane LP, Allender MC, Archer G, Dzhaman E, Pauley J, Moore AR, Ruiz MO, Smith RL, Byrd J, Phillips CA. Prevalence of Terrapene herpesvirus 1 in free-ranging eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) in Tennessee and Illinois, USA. J Wildl Dis. 2017;53(2):285–295.

11.  Lloyd TC, Allender MC, Archer G, Phillips CA, Byrd J, Moore AR. Modeling hematologic and biochemical parameters with spatiotemporal analysis for the free-ranging eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) in Illinois and Tennessee, a potential biosentinel. Ecohealth. 2016;13(3):467–479.


Speaker Information
(click the speaker's name to view other papers and abstracts submitted by this speaker)

Katy Klein, BS
Wildlife Epidemiology Laboratory
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Illinois
Urbana, IL, USA

MAIN : Reptiles : Box Turtles Blood Lactate Following Canine Capture
Powered By VIN